Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (centre) answers questions about Cairns and Far North Queensland from Cairns Post editor Jennifer Spilsbury and Cairns Post political reporter Chris Calcino. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (centre) answers questions about Cairns and Far North Queensland from Cairns Post editor Jennifer Spilsbury and Cairns Post political reporter Chris Calcino. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE.

ScoMo in the hot seat in Cairns Post office

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison stopped into the Cairns Post office for a half-hour Q&A; session with editor Jennifer Spilsbury, political reporter Chris Calcino and questions from readers.

The discussion covered topics as far afield as climate change, Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch's future, crocodile shooting safaris and the merits of the six-and-out rule in backyard cricket.

Video footage of the entire interview is available online at cairnspost.com.au - but here are a few highlights.

 

The preferred site for the $60 million Cairns Tropical Enterprise Centre is currently home to the city's iconic Captain Cook statue. Should it be saved?

I've seen quite a lot of Cook statues in my time, and I've never seen one quite like that. I would hope they could sort something out. Hopefully it isn't too difficult.

 

How can we have faith in the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility when all of its board members are LNP donors and it has not funded any projects in Far North Queensland?

It wasn't that long ago, and it actually happened when I was Treasurer, that we changed the mandate for the NAIF. We did that because frankly we were very frustrated with the slowness in progress of getting projects supported. So I expect to see other projects come forward and be supported. These are people who know what they're doing. I think it's good to have them on boards.

 

Is it time to start a croc hunting tourism industry to make the Far North's swimming holes safe?

I've never found it a good practice for me as a prime minister to go around poking my nose into complex issues that I have no responsibility for managing.

 

Do you think Cairns' bid to have a joint NRL team with PNG will ever come true?

There's many things I'm responsible for but the NRL isn't one of them, as much as on occasions I'd like it to be - particularly when the decisions go to the bunker down at Shark Park. I think this is developing. We're supporting it developing. But ultimate decisions about which clubs and where and all the rest of it, they're up to the NRL. Increasingly in the Pacific, there's just such huge interest. So anything to be done to make those connections stick, I think, is really positive.

 

Now that Cairns has been recognised as a strategic port by Defence and Home Affairs, when will we see some meaningful marine infrastructure upgrades?

The youth unemployment rate here has fallen since the last election from 28 per cent to 15.6 per cent. That didn't happen by accident. That has happened because of great work by local people here running businesses, Warren's work to support the infrastructure to grow the economy, and the port is part of that. There's a lot happening now with the port, there's the dredging which has commenced and so on. So we want to see that continue.

 

Why should people vote for Warren Entsch again?

Because you can never get enough of a good thing. He's the mailman - he delivers every single time for North Queensland.

 

What's your favourite thing about Cairns?

Each time you come there's something new going on. I can't tell you how important that is for a centre that is very reliant on hospitality and tourism - to keep adding to the itinerary, to keep adding to the experiences and to keep the infrastructure upgraded.

 

What is your view on the six-and-out rule?

I think six-and-out's a good rule. Except we had a game of backyard cricket to raise some funds for charity with some local FM radio guys down in Sydney. We said if you get the six in the ferry, then you can stay in. One hand off the wall - and that includes if it's bounced off the dog too, by the way - that's out.



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